DEFECTIVE PRODUCT: Realspace PRO Quantum Mesh Mid-Back Task Chair

I’ve had the Realspace PRO Quantum Mesh Mid-Back Task Chair for 2 to 3 years now. Our relationship has finally come to an end.

When I first discovered this chair at Office Depot, I had already looked at a lot of different chairs and decided that I would want a mesh chair since it is usually pretty hot, here in Texas. The Herman Miller Aeron was a bit pricey. The Realspace chair, at less than half the price, was fully adjustable and comfortable to sit in. It was not big and bulky like some of the other chairs in the same price range, which was fine with me since I’m under 150 lb. It does have a heavy base, which keeps it well grounded. It had been a great chair for me until the day it broke.

I was at my desk working on the computer, when I decided to lean back. In a split second, the chair back broke off from the chair base.  I started to fall back.  My legs flew up and caught the underside of the desk, preventing me from falling completely off the chair. The back of my head was about a foot from the ground. It was the most exciting thing to happen to me all week.

Broken Realspace Mesh Chair

Chair back broke off the chair base.

I took a closer look at the chair.  The chair base has a metal stub with 2 screw holes in it. The bottom portion of the chair back is made of plastic. It’s like a sleeve that fits over the metal stub.  Once  attached, the two parts are held together by 2 screw that go in from the back of the chair.

Chair base

Metal stub on chair base. Screws had sheared off.

What caused the back of the chair to break off was that the two screws holding the back and the chair base together had sheared off. Then the plastic sleeve at the bottom of the chair back cracked and entire back fell off. It all happened instantly.

Chair Back

Plastic sleeve at the bottom of chair back cracked.

This is a pretty dangerous design flaw. I was lucky to be working at a desk, which held down my legs and kept me from falling off. Someone leaning back while not at a desk, and on a concrete floor could be serious injured when this chair fails. That the chair was designed for the user to lean back in, and that it broke for a user weighing under 150 lbs is a really bad sign! It is an unsafe product that should be recalled. I would not recommended this chair to anyone unless the design flaw is addressed.

[Update: 11/08/2011]
I sent an email to product.safety@officedepot.com to let Office Depot know what happened to my chair.  They apologized and asked if I still had the receipt.  I didn’t so I sent them photos of the chair.  Based on that, they mailed me an Office Depot gift card for $300, which is the price that I had paid for the chair 2 to 3 years ago.  I’m very happy with the way in which they handled the whole thing.  It was not a hassle at all.

They didn’t answer my question about whether there has been a recall on this chair. My guess is that it’s still a money maker for them (it’s still on their website), the payout to people who complained like I did, is still too small, and they probably have not had a lawsuit yet…

An Office Depot gift card to make up for the defective chair that I had purchased.

 

12 thoughts on “DEFECTIVE PRODUCT: Realspace PRO Quantum Mesh Mid-Back Task Chair

  1. Funny I have the same chair and the same thing just happened to me but yet Customer Service over there at Office Depot is useless. They said I would have to call another number to see if they can pull up a receipt for me.

    • Thanks for the URL to the recall! It does look like they would send the repair
      kit for free. Too bad I have already given away mine for parts.

  2. Thanks for the trouble of making sure other people don’t have the same problem. I was considering buying this for my son and will look very closely to see if they have changed the design after a year. I don’t want to have to get a repair kit for something they should have been able to change in the basic design since then.

    If they haven’t fixed it, I’ll be moving on to another store. I don’t want to buy from a company that continues to sell chairs that could break under normal use.

  3. I’ve been using mine for years with the back broken off. I love it! No slouching.

    I’m an extra large man who spends 10-16 hours a day at my desk. Now that the arm rest pads are destroyed I’m getting the same chair again. I’ll not bother to install the back this time.

  4. I had the exact same issue (great pictures) and went to Home Depot to buy replacement bolts. My fix has worked well. I like the chair so much I was considering a second one, but wanted to see if the problem was fixed. Thanks for the excellent post and the info about the recall. Gotta love the interwebs.

  5. The bolts are not the problem, its the chair design. I got replacement bolts and they still broke. The EXACT same thing happened to me with on of the two chairs that I have. Since the design flaw was not addressed, it still broke…I am going to ask for a refund. Thanks for the post!

  6. Thanks for the great info. Exact same problem. Just rolled off the back of the chair and cracked my head so hard I had to look at my drivers licence to add my name to this comment. I will be looking at options to fix or replace ASAP.

  7. Based on your photos, I’d say the problem is less a design flaw than an assembly oversight. Cleary from your image, the part was machined to accommodate 4 bolts but only employed 2 of the holes.

    I’ve had this chair for about 20 months now and it appears that they have made some factory adjustments.
    Not only does mine have all 4 bolts on this section, but there is also a warning label that begins with “Important for your safety!” printed in red. The text goes no to advise you that, during assembly, be sure to tighten the bolts securely and periodically check them to ensure that they remain tight.

    I love this chair. My office purchased it for me when I began to have disk problems in my lower 3 vertebrae. I’ve never had a more comfortable desk chair.

  8. Exactly the same accident happened to me as described by the initiator of this document. The pictures could have been from my chair. I bought it 2 or 3 years back. I use it daily at my home office. I was stretching leaning back when suddenly the chair broke and I fell flat on the floor. Fortunately, I did not hurt myself. I noticed the screws broke…just like in the picture.
    If this is happening to others, this is definitely a defective product and should be recalled.
    I will contact product.safety@officedepot.com
    Thanks for having posted this.

  9. Indeed, both my brother and I have had the same problem. I replaced the bolts twice before drilling out the holes and fitting with 3/8″ bolts with lock nuts. The original bolts really are insufficient. Perhaps the OEM replacement bolts are strong enough, but I prefer the additional steel of the larger bolts.

    All said and done, I do really like this chair: very comfortable, adjusts well, cool in the summer.

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